As said, it's not without its redeeming merits. Apart from the occasional over-darkness, the production values are very high, it's beautifully shot and has real style and atmosphere. The music is a vast majority of the time haunting and well suited.
But it's the performance of Veronica Cartwright that makes the episode. It's chilling to see a seemingly innocent and somewhat frail woman that's actually quite the monster played with chillingly subtle menace, in a relationship between mother and son where it is clear she is the dominant and creepier of the two. The leads also do quite well with what they have, though as will come later almost everybody is wasted.
What is meant by "The Bond" losing so much of what makes the show so great is that there is far too much of the unsub and the relationship between his mother and nowhere near enough of the BAU, which gives it a completely different feel. Unfortunately, the unsub is not that interesting and played in a way that's neither menacing or sympathetic, instead he is too much of a "Mama's Boy" (not a team I often use but it's apt here) and seems easily walked over, almost like he was being controlled and being reluctant to do it. That's what the mother/son relationship came over as, which lessons the impact it could.
As for the BAU, they are not just underused but wasted. One misses the chemistry, the interaction, the little character moments that fans look out for and the nuances. The more interesting characters have less than 10 minutes screen-time it seems and there is too much of Lewis and Morgan. Shemar Moore does fine, but Aisha Tyler continues to demonstrate her limitations as an actress. The episode also sees us over half-way through the season and one still hasn't warmed to Lewis and she still doesn't gel.
What makes the best of 'Criminal Minds' so good was the profiling, the pathology and the psychological delving into the criminal's mind. In "The Bond" and in too many of Season 11's episodes, that all takes a backseat, in fact there's hardly any at all. The case is dull, and severely lacks suspense. A major reason why was due to the unsub being revealed far too early which with so many elements missing it is a chore to sit through the underused BAU trying to solve the case when the viewer knows almost everything practically from the start, only the motive was surprising and did bring momentary creepiness and shock value.
Overall, hugely disappointing and an even more disappointing reminder of 'Criminal Minds' generally being past its best, having forgotten or not caring about what made it work so well in the first place. 3/10 Bethany Cox